How to handle non-compliance

In Health and Safety, September 20222 MinutesBy Tracey MurphyOctober 7, 2022

Are your team members genuinely doing what’s required of them – or just what’s needed to keep you off their backs?

I think most business owners and managers are control freaks. Let’s face it, how could we create successful businesses, managing staff and customers without having a firm handle on everything?

When it comes to health and safety, we put in place processes and procedures and train staff on how to follow them. There is a strong crossover with quality here. If we have good control and sound management systems, we review the outcomes. Often, if the outcomes are what we expect, we stop looking.

Sometimes the outcomes are not what we expect. At this point, many owners and managers revert to the old stick control method. We have all been here – ordering our staff to follow the rules, to do things the way we want them done. But pause for a moment and consider how successful that approach has been.

I was visiting an organisation this week. They said that near- miss reporting was lower than they would like. They gave the staff a bit of a talk and said the reporting will pick up now – it always does, after a talking to.

What’s wrong with this picture? Notice the comment about how reporting always picks up. That tells me that the staff are just keeping the manager off their backs by reporting more – for a while. The underlying problem has not been fixed.

So, what is the underlying problem? In this case, I don’t know; the managers don’t know. The people who do know are the staff. It could be a training issue, an ease-of-access issue, a getting- in-trouble-for-reporting issue or a nothing-changes-when-they- do-report issue. The list is almost endless.

The most effective method of solving non-compliance is to talk with and listen to the people involved. Generally, you will be able to identify the problem and resolve it to the satisfaction of management and staff.